Saudi businesses warned against exploiting consumers amid coronavirus crisis

Businesses who exploit the coronavirus crisis by jacking up prices of goods and services face severe penalties, the Saudi Public Prosecution has warned. (AFP / FAYEZ NURELDINE)
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Updated 16 March 2020

Saudi businesses warned against exploiting consumers amid coronavirus crisis

  • Saudi Public Prosecution says profiteers face fines of up to SR10 million
  • The warning comes amid an increasing demand on hygiene and health product as coronavirus spreads.

RIYADH: The Saudi Public Prosecution has warned businesses against jacking up the prices of products or services amid increasing demand for health and hygiene products over coronavirus fears.

“Enterprises engaged in commercial, agricultural, industrial or service businesses are prohibited from exploiting temporary repercussions, global events or exceptional situations to carry out contrived practices that create a false and misleading impression that suggests an unrealistic shortage of goods or services in order to control prices,” said the public protection in a tweet.

According to Article 6 of the Saudi Competition Law, an entity or entities having a dominant position in the market shall be prohibited from exploiting this position to undermine or limit competition.

Article 19 of the same law stipulates: “Whoever violates any of the provisions of Article 6 of this law shall be punished by a fine not exceeding 10 percent of the total annual sales value subject of the violation. When it is impossible to estimate the annual sales, the fine shall not exceed SR10 million. 

The Committee may, at its discretion, impose a fine not exceeding three times the gains made by the violator as a result of the violation.”

The law also listed examples of practices that are considered monopolistic practices, such as selling products or services at a price lower than its total cost, manipulating the supply of products to control the prices and imply unreal abundance or deficit.

“The competition Law existed for many years. It prevents the practices of monopoly and exploitation of markets to breach competition,” said Dr. Majed Garoub, a Saudi lawyer and chairman of the Law Firm of Majed M. Garoub, adding that the Public Prosecution’s announcement is just an assurance and a reminder of the law and its articles.

Pharmacies or hypermarkets that raise prices of face masks or hand sanitizers amid fears of coronavirus are exposed to the penalties mentioned in the Coopetition Law, Garoub explained.

“Definitely it’s exploitation. One of the worst shapes of abuse is that related to abusing people’s health in critical times such as pandemics or wars. Those crises traders are the worst traders ever,” he said.

The measures that aim to protect consumers in critical times do not contradict with the concept of free market, the lawyer said.

“Free market doesn’t mean that you have the right to commit monopolistic practices. It’s your right to compete in the market, but it’s not your right to conspire against the consumer,” he added. “This is a crime against the nation, and has nothing to do with the free market.”

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The Hajjana: heritage of Saudi Arabia’s camel riding border patrol honored

Updated 30 October 2020

The Hajjana: heritage of Saudi Arabia’s camel riding border patrol honored

The Hajjana — fearless camel riders who patrolled the Kingdom’s borders — helped pave the way for the establishment of the modern Saudi state.
Their story goes back almost 90 years when a Hajjana border patrol was established during the reign of King Abdul Aziz in 1933.
After the Kingdom’s founder reclaimed Al-Ahsa, he ordered sea and land patrols to be carried out to tighten security in the region’s border areas.
Patrols were led by camel riders, so a military sector was formed at that time known as Hajjana. Its name was derived from their means of transport — camels.
Now, nine decades later, the Camel Club has established the Royal Hajjana to commemorate the group’s distinguished cultural heritage.
Since its creation in April, the Royal Hajjana has been preparing to take part in official reception ceremonies for King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s guests as well as national festivals sponsored by the king and crown prince.
It will also perform in Saudi heritage shows and represent the Kingdom in local and international camel festivals.
Hajjana officers became famous throughout the country after acquiring their name from the “hejin,” or camel. They protected the Kingdom’s residents from the south of the Empty Quarter to north of the Nafud Desert.
One of the founding king’s priorities was to provide security and protect the nation’s borders, so the Border Guard was among the first military sectors created.
The Coast Guard’s budget also included allocations for Hajjana officers, known as the Hajjana patrol commanders, whose role was part of the Frontier Corps.
Patrols continued to operate in southern regions until recently. However, the memory of the Hajjana remains fresh in the minds of the Kingdom’s border guards.